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NASA chief to visit China

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 12, 2010
NASA chief Charles Bolden will make an official visit to China October 16-21, a spokesman for the US space agency said Tuesday.

The visit was first announced in November 2009 during a visit to China by President Barack Obama but no dates had been set until now, NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage said. He provided no agenda for the visit.

Representative John Culberson, a Republican from Texas, raised objections to the trip in a letter to President Barack Obama, saying the US Congress should have been consulted first.

"I have grave concerns about the nature and goals of China's space program and strongly oppose any cooperation between NASA and CNSA's (China National Space Administration's) human space flight programs without congressional authorization," he wrote.

"Considering that Congress has raised concerns about and set limitations on cooperation with China, I do not believe it is appropriate for the administrator to meet with any Chinese officials until Congress is fully briefed on the nature and scope of Mr. Bolden's trip and planned discussions on cooperation," the letter said.

Bolden's trip to China comes two weeks after the successful launch of a second Chinese lunar probe, Chang'e-2, part of a program that seeks to send men to the moon around 2020.

Faced with budgetary constraints, the United States earlier this year abandoned its Constellation program to return Americans to the moon as a prelude to the conquest of Mars.

During a visit to Japan at the end of 2009, Bolden said the United States was ready to discuss partnerships in space projects with China.

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